Seattle police asking for community's help in stopping gun violence

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by KING 5 News

KING5.com

Posted on May 28, 2012 at 10:35 PM

Updated Tuesday, May 29 at 6:32 PM

Regarding mounting gun violence in Seattle, top officers told city councilmembers they will continue to put extra police on the street as part of anti-violence patrols.

Seattle Police briefed Seattle City Council members on strategies moving forward following a week of shootings that left one man dead, one man injured and several others shaken by gunshots.

Local father Justin Ferrari was killed when he unknowingly drove through a shooting in Seattle's Central District. A man was shot on the Seattle Center grounds Saturday evening, while the area was packed with Folklife Festival-goers. In other parts of the city, four drive-by-shootings left people diving for cover and their homes riddled with bullets.

Seattle City Councilmember Nick Licata told SPD he was concerned that current strategies used to curb violence are not working.

According to Special Operations Assistant Chief Paul McDonagh, officers are being concentrated in "hot spots," which have seen the most violence.

SPD said in addition to the extra officers, they will continue to urge neighbors, family members and witnesses to share what they know about violence around their communities.

James Bible, head of the NAACP's Seattle branch, was present for Tuesday's briefing in the council chambers, and said he believes it may be difficult for officers to gain the trust of the community.

"How can police punch someone in the face one day and the next day go to them asking for information?" said Bible.

Pastor meets with gang members

Central Area Pastor Lawrence Willis met with six Seattle gang leaders on Tuesday, asking them to put down their weapons.

"They say what’s going to happen if we do. Are you gonna be here when they come after me for this?"

A Kent gang member was arrested for a Saturday night shooting at the Seattle Center that left a bystander wounded, and police tie one of four drive-by shootings that night to gang activity.

But at Tuesday's City council emergency update from police, the brass downplayed  gang violence as a factor in this year’s 20 percent hike in homicides.

"The best answer I can come up with right now is the prevalence of guns. When you carry a gun your chances of using that gun are high,” said Deputy Police Chief Nick Metz.

Police say they need to get everyone engaged in solving the problem, and they will continue outreach to communities.

"If something’s brewing you can go ahead and call 911. We can try to prevent it. That’s the ultimate goal, try and prevent it before it happens,” said Paul McDonagh, Assistant Chief for Operations.

So far this year there have been 16 homicides. Police have made seven arrests and six of those suspects have been charged.

Drive-by bullets nearly miss teen girl

Police are investigating those four drive-by shootings that occurred in south Seattle early Sunday.  Nobody was hurt in any of the shootings, but more than 60 rounds were fired in all. 

In one incident, a teenage girl was getting ready for bed in her home when someone fired several shots that went through the her bedroom window and other areas of the house.

"The window shattered and [glass] hit me, so my reaction is to duck," the girl told KING 5 News.  "I just waited a few seconds and I heard a few bullets again."

Family of Central District shooting thanks community

The family of Justin Ferrari issued a statement regarding his death Tuesday morning:

Thank you very much for all your support over the last few days.  The outpouring of love and generosity has been more than we ever would have expected - not just from friends and family, but also from many, many people whom Justin didn't even know.  We are very grateful for all the kind thoughts, prayers, words, and actions that have been directed our way. 

We are especially grateful to the local families and businesses who have offered to make donations or raise money to help support our family.  In lieu of donations or flowers, and if you feel so moved, please consider making a donation in Justin's honor to a charity that he was passionate about supporting:

In addition to offering our deep and heartfelt appreciation, we ask that you please help us achieve some peace by respecting our privacy during this very difficult time.  We will be making no more public statements, but we are so thankful for all of your care and concern.

There have been 16 murders in Seattle so far this year, compared to just three through Memorial Day weekend of 2011.

Tale of two cities

Following a violent Memorial Day weekend in Chicago in which 40 people were shot and 10 people were killed, the city's police will be targeting liquor and convenience stores used by gang members as hangouts.

Police blame much of the violence on the city's more than 70 active gangs and their tens of thousands of members.

Homicides in Chicago spiked by 60 percent during the first three months of this year, to a total of 120 -- nearly all of them the result of shootings.

The increase came despite a boost in police resources in some of Chicago's most dangerous neighborhoods.

KING 5's Jim Forman, Linda Brill and Lindsay Chamberlain, and the Associated Press contributed to this report.

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